Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Talking Broom Cupboards

The High Commission recently hired new contractors to provide cleaning services to the place. The group they’ve hired are quite efficient, very friendly & smell a hell of a lot better than the last lot (that's a whole blog post in itself!!).

The cleaners use, as their “base”, broom cupboards on the ground & first floor.

These broom cupboards are located in a corridor on the way to the toilets.

We all thought we were going mad when we first heard it: we swore we were hearing the cupboard “talk” to us.

We soon realised that it’s not that the cupboard is “talking” to us but that the cleaners were congregating in the cupboard & having a bit of a chin wag. When I say cleaners, I mean ALL of them. The cupboards appear to be veritable tardis’ (ala “Doctor Who”) & seem to fit the entire cleaning workforce.

You will watch the door, hear the conversation cease, then watch in stunned amazement as every single one of the cleaners exit out of the cupboard & shoot off to their respective areas of cleaning.

Something to keep us amused during the day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Room with a View

I spent last week looking at houses for the new DA. As you'd expect when looking for houses to rent, you get a lot of pretty ordinary places & some very nice places. This was what I saw at one of the really nice places:

How bizzare is that ??

Local cows

Here's a video I filmed of some of the local cows wandering up our street (as they sometimes do).

A spot of Gaellic Football with the Irish

Last weekend (the 17th) was the annual International rules Gaelic/AFL football match against the Irish. The Australians won by one point.

After the game, everyone headed back to the club to watch the Australia/Ireland match of the World Cup Rugby. In that case, Ireland won by more than one point.

A good time was had by all & the Irish managed to drink the bar almost dry (I kid you not !!)

Even the guys working the kitchen were getting into it

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking for a job ?? India needs a new hangman

An interesting article found on "The Independent" website about India's efforts to find its new hangman:

The man who wants to become India's new executioner

An acute shortage of hangmen is forcing Indian prisons to consider novices for the sombre job

By Andrew Buncombe in Meerut
Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pawan Kumar at his home in Meerut

With an ease and fluidity that suggested considerable practice, Pawan Kumar picked up a rope and demonstrated how to tie a hangman's noose. He showed precisely where the loop should be fitted to ensure things went quickly and smoothly. And finally he showed how, with a silent nod from the jailer, either he or his grandfather would ease back the lever controlling the trap-door and dispatch the condemned prisoner to his death.

"There is a lot of process that goes into getting the noose correct so that the person does not suffer," he said. "I know, because of my grandfather. He explained to me the science behind it."

India is in search of an executioner and Mr Kumar may be in the frame. The nation has long been in two minds about the death penalty, reserved only for "the rarest of rare" cases, and has not executed anyone for seven years. There are presently an estimated 350 prisoners on death row, each uncertain of his fate.

But amid growing pressure on the government to show it is being "tough" on security and following the recent rejection of mercy petitions of several death row inmates, there is the potential for half-a-dozen or so executions within a matter of months.

A pressing problem is the shortage of hangmen. When President Pratibha Patil announced in May she was rejecting the appeals of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das, the prison authorities in Assam, where Das is held, admitted they retained no hangman and asked other jails across the country to lend them one. At Tihar jail in Delhi, where Bhullar is held, officials have also said they have no executioner and will have to borrow one.

"The last execution here was 22 years ago and for us to keep an executioner on the payroll" makes no sense, said the jail's legal officer, Sunil Gupta.

Mr Kumar is adamant he should be the man to fill the void. His grandfather and later his father were both retained by the authorities at Meerut jail as its official hangman. Indeed, his grandfather was a celebrated executioner, he said; in 1989 it was he who hanged Satwant Singh, one of the two bodyguards who assassinated prime minister Indira Gandhi five years earlier. Following his father's death this spring, Mr Kumar applied for the position. So far, the 48-year-old has undergone two trial demonstrations.

Seated on a bench at his neat home two hours north-east of Delhi, Mr Kumar, who has seven children, said he had assisted his grandfather on a number of occasions and claimed to have even carried out one hanging by himself when his grandfather was unable to attend. The first time he helped was the execution in 1992 of two brothers convicted of murder. "I tied the feet of the two men. My grandfather fitted the noose," he said. "After that first execution there was no emotional feeling. I was not frightened because I had wanted to do it since childhood."

Not everyone feels that way. The man who carried out India's most recent execution was Nata Mullick, who also hailed from a family of hangmen and who in 2004 put to death a man convicted of the rape and murder of a schoolgirl. Before he died last year, he said that he was haunted by the faces of the 25 people he had hanged.

After that last execution several people in West Bengal were reportedly strangled to death by accident, after Mr Mullick demonstrated for TV cameras how to tie a noose and triggered a wave of "pretend hangings". Mr Mullick's nephew was to have inherited the position but, having assisted at the 2004 hanging, found himself ill-suited. Now the opportunity has fallen to his son, Mahadeb Mullick, who has said he is unenthusiastic about taking on the role given the way "hangmen are used and discarded".

Others worry about bad karma and its possible impact on a future reincarnation. Some fear social exclusion. Another veteran hangman or "jallad", Amhadullah Khan, 58, from Lucknow, also doubts he will ever again work the gallows' lever. Speaking by phone, Mr Khan said somewhat angrily: "I don't want to speak to the media about the barbaric profession. I don't support capital punishment. I don't remember how many people I have hanged."

The first of a flurry of executions may take place in Tamil Nadu, where three men convicted of plotting the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the son of Indira Gandhi, were scheduled to have been hanged on September 9 until a court ordered a two-month stay. Jail officials have said a member of the prison staff will carry out the executions if they proceed.

Finding a hangman is not the only issue. In Tamil Nadu local politicians have passed a resolution calling for clemency for the men, Murugan, Chinna Santhan and Perarivalan, who have spent years on death row. The move has put considerable pressure on the ruling Congress Party.

There are similar issues surrounding the possible execution of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who has always denied his role in a deadly 1993 bomb attack for which he was sentenced to death and whose supporters have fought a vociferous campaign for his freedom.

And in Kashmir, officials have warned that if the authorities proceed with the hanging of Afzal Guru, who was convicted of a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament but who maintains his innocence, there will be a serious backlash. "Kashmir will erupt if he is hanged," the moderate separatist leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, told reporters. Yet there is also pressure on the government to show a strong hand on matters of security.

Amid allegations it has not done enough to prevent terror attacks, such as the bomb set off outside the Delhi high court last week killing more than a dozen people, the government seeks to project itself as being firm.

Following the conviction of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving member of the group of militants that attacked Mumbai in 2008, there was talk of a fast-track execution process but nothing has come of it so far.

As it is, the fear of further attacks has created a mood for revenge, admit campaigners against the death penalty. "There has been increasing criticism from the opposition that the government is soft on terror, often citing the failure to hang those convicted for terrorism.

Unfortunately, a series of recent violent attacks have also led to public outrage and rather bloodthirsty demands for retribution," said Meenakshi Ganguly, of Human Rights Watch.

Pavan Kumar is happy to share the tricks of the trade. While some hangmen are said to have used clarified butter or crushed bananas to help work the noose, Mr Kumar says his family never did, and instead placed the loop inside an empty pitcher to help it retain its shape.

But if he is to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and father and secure the monthly retainer of 3,000 Indian rupees (£40) it is the officials at Meerut jail he must impress.

Things have not gone entirely smoothly. Mr SK Kesarwani, superintendent of the white-washed prison that was at the centre of the 1857 uprising against British forces by Indian troops, declined a request to visit the prison's gallows where Mr Kumar recently tried to show his prowess by "executing" a 150lb sack of sand. But he played a video of Mr Kumar's performance on his mobile phone

The footage showed Mr Kumar standing atop of a gallows set over a trap-door and checking the noose before releasing the lever. The sack of sand thudded to the floor with the rope still slightly loose, indicating that had it been a real execution the prisoner would most likely not have been killed. He had misjudged the length of rope required, said Mr Kesarwarni. "The technicalities are [not correct]."

The shimself something of a reputation for progressive thinking at the prison, where there are two inmates on death row, and he said that he was personally opposed to capital punishment.

However, he recognised it was something he had to prepare for. He admitted too, that given the scarcity of candidates for the position of hangman, he would be obliged to persist, at least for now, with Mr Kumar. "We don't have any options," he sighed. "That is why we are willing to give him another trial."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Earthquake in Delhi

There was an earthquake in Delhi last night at about 11.30pm.

It was a 4.2 on the Richter scale....downgraded from an initial analysis of 6.6.

I was drifting off to sleep at the time when I heard a “noise”...I can’t describe it any other way (some people said they heard what sounded like an airplane landing/crashing). Then, the entire apartment starts swaying for what seemed only a few seconds. Other people have said it lasted about 10 seconds & the movement was up & down.

I said to Tania: “What the f*** was that ??”. She said “an earthquake” & then promptly went back to her deep sleep (I hate it how she can do that so easily).

It was my first experience of an earthquake.

Everyone was talking about it at the High Commission this morning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A farewell for Owen

On Sunday, Tania & I hosted a farewell for one of her colleagues. Owen is a lovely bloke from Ireland who is heading home to get married & then is off to China for a posting.

We're going to miss his witty remarks on things he knows nothing about...and gets caught out on it !!

We'll miss ya Owen !!

How's this for a dodgy lot

How's this for a not-so-dodgy lot

Who's that lovely person ??

Food's up !!

Tucking into the food

Dessert anyone ??

A collection of film photos from the Thailand trip

Yep...that's right !! You read it correctly. I'm one of those old-fashioned types who still use a film camera. The anticipation of the wait to see how your photos turn out is something I really enjoy. Trying to get your hands on film is proving to be an adventure in itself.

The looks you get from the folks when you ask for film is priceless. Here in India it's not so much of a problem as film seems to be readily available. I try to hoard whatever I get my hands on, especially when I'm overseas from India.

But....back to the photos.....enjoy:

The Royal Palace - Bangkok

The detail of the Mother-of-Pearl feet of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

Destroyed Buddhas (Ayutthaya)

Destroyed Buddha (Ayutthaya)

Destoyed Buddha - detail

Destroyed Buddha - detail

Wild dog - getting down & sleepy (Ayutthaya)

Elephant ride (Ayuttaya)

Coming under the Bridge Over the River Kwai

Watching the train cross the River Kwai - from the comfort of a bar

Thai-Burma Railway

Railway workers getting around - Thai-Burma Railway

Riding the train

Hellfire Pass

Hellfire Pass from the highest point

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An article on rat catchers in India

This article was from the "Los Angeles Times" website:


India's night rat killers: Hunting shadows that scurry
In Mumbai, stalking rats with a metal-tipped pole is a coveted job thanks to the steady pay. But the squeamish need not apply.

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
9:21 PM PDT, September 5, 2011
Reporting from Mumbai, India

Mahesh Suresh Kamble, 20, is one of 33 night rat killers in Mumbai, India. He uses a metal-tipped pole to kill the rodents and has a quota of 30 per shift. (Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times / September 6, 2011)

This city of 20 million people, the frenetic embodiment of India's energy, ambition and chaos, doesn't do quiet very well, even as it pauses for a few hours after midnight to rejuvenate. Tonight, monsoon rains from the Arabian Sea are forcing its thousands of street dwellers to retreat to dank hallways and dimly lit underpasses.

Mahesh Suresh Kamble and his co-worker, Sangpal Sitaram Bachate, wait for the rain to ease before heading to a complex of four-story apartments in the heart of the city, aware that their prey prefers indoor comfort in such weather.

The buildings, a few blocks from Mumbai's posh Queen's Necklace shoreline, are decrepit, their cornerstones chipped. The friends wade through butter wrappers and rotting onions tossed from windows above. It isn't long before they find what they're looking for: dozens of rats, scurrying along the walls, skulking behind parked bikes, crouched under newspapers.

The pair, assigned to "C Ward" in the old city, soon separate. As Bachate heads around a corner, Kamble enters a narrow alley and calmly approaches an 8-inch rodent, shining a flashlight into its eyes. The animal is blinded just long enough for Kamble to whack it in the head with his metal-tipped pole.

His blows are usually fatal. But this time he doesn't land a clean strike and the injured rat leaps into the air like a miniature circus performer. This job doesn't reward the squeamish. Kamble grabs the animal by the tail and finishes it off by slamming its head twice against the concrete sidewalk.

All in an evening's work for the 33 night rat killers employed by the Mumbai government under a system dating to the days of the British Empire, with the archaic equipment and tradition-bound requirements to prove it.

Kamble, 20, and Bachate, 27, beat out hundreds of other applicants for the job, some of whom had college degrees. Candidates must be 18 to 30 years old, have at least a 10th-grade education, be able to lift 110 pounds and pass a written exam and a video review of their rodent-killing skills.

After all that, a dozen finalists are taken to a field to see who kills the most rats in 15 minutes. Kamble and Bachate trained weeks for this challenge. Both bagged around 20, the best of the lot.

Six days a week, the city's night rat killers — NRKs in acronym-happy India — fan out from midnight till dawn to satisfy their individual quota of 30 fresh corpses per shift. Each has two nights to make up any shortfall: 90 in three days, or they don't get paid.

Oversized ledgers maintained by pest-control bureaucrats show that 214,848 rats met an untimely end in Mumbai between January and July of this year. Two-thirds were done in by the night killers, the rest by traps and poison. To put that success in perspective, consider that a single rat couple can give rise to 20 million offspring in three years, under ideal procreative conditions.

Those who administer the system from the comfort of their desks say details on its origins and evolution are all but lost to bureaucratic history. Nor can they explain why such exacting educational and fitness requirements are needed to thump a rodent with a stick.

The fastidiousness may stem in part from the subcontinent's history of devastating outbreaks of bubonic plague, an infection borne by the fleas of rodents. A sample of the daily rat haul is combed for fleas, which are tested for plague. Mumbai's last epidemic was in 1896, although several dozen people died in a 1994 outbreak several hundred miles to the north.

Mumbai, with Asia's largest slum and a port where cargo and furry stowaways from around the world are disgorged, is an ideal breeding — and hunting — ground for rats.

"We don't have a special rat census," city spokesman Ganesh Puranik says. "But I think we must have the most in the world. Rats don't think about family planning."

After conking a rat senseless, Kamble grabs its limp body between his toes and flings it onto open pavement, distant enough from walls and burrows that it won't be able to slink away if it suddenly recovers. Then he collects his kills in a plastic bag.

Kamble has honed his craft over time, stalking rats barefoot so they won't hear him, perfecting an overhead swing with his trusty pole. Bachate wears sandals and prefers a side-arm motion.

Other rat killers claim they can hear, even smell, their adversaries in the dark.

Kamble says he picked up tricks from older rat catchers, including which markets or dumpsters offer the best hunting and how to craft the best stick. He proudly shows off his creation, a bamboo rod 6 feet long with a nasty hook-shaped piece of metal on its business end.

Stick men are relatively rare even in India. Most cities here rely on traps, cats, poisons, fumigation and glue strips.

But the cudgel method is "brutal and simple," says Amrit Suryavanshi, head pest-control officer for C Ward.

It's also efficient. Traps get stolen. Poison makes children sick. Glue strips leave rats suffering for days.

The rat catchers say they haven't heard much from animal rights groups, although bystanders sometimes interfere during the annual festival of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god, who is traditionally depicted riding a rat.

Kamble says he's had pangs of conscience, given the Hindu belief that a person could be reborn as an animal. (A temple in northeastern Rajasthan state worships rats as reincarnated storytellers.) But he reasons that he's doing God's work by eliminating disease carriers.

Suryavanshi believes Mumbai's rich classes could learn a lot from Kamble and Bachate. "They're not afraid to work hard, no matter how unpleasant it is, to safeguard the community," he says.

Another motivation, Kamble and Bachate say on a break from their killing spree, is the $175 a month income, provided they meet their quotas, and the chance after several years of rat catching to land a regular city job.

That sort of upward mobility is a fantasy made real for the likes of Kamble and Bachate, whose families migrated to Mumbai from subsistence villages in the 1980s.

Kamble is his family's only breadwinner. Among his responsibilities (he's still single) is saving for his younger sisters' dowries, often an Indian family's biggest expense.

Bachate works in construction during the day to supplement his rat-killing earnings.

"I don't get much sleep," he says. "Life's long and you must work hard."

At 27, it's time for him to think about marriage, which usually is arranged in India.

"I've been introduced to a girl, and her parents think a rat catcher in the family is great," Bachate says before heading into the darkness, his rat bag over his shoulder. "In fact, with this job I'm a bit of a catch."

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

An interesting article about the India-Pakistan border

I found this article on the Daily Mail website (yes...I do love looking at the occasional trashy English newspaper):

Whose bright idea was that? Border between India and Pakistan is so brightly lit it can be seen from space

By Chris Parsons
Last updated at 3:19 PM on 5th September 2011

Snaking for hundreds of miles across the earth's surface, this spectacular picture shows one of the planet's land borders like never before.

The dramatic picture shows a bright orange line jutting across the earth, indicating the border between India and Pakistan.

The stunning image of the earth, taken from the International Space Station last month, also shows busy cities show up as bright clusters hundreds of miles apart.

Spectacular: The International Space Station image captures the floodlit border between India, above the orange line, and Pakistan, below the border in the picture

The border between India and Pakistan, shown here on a conventional satellite image, is now under heavy surveillance through floodlights and fencing

The Indian government sanctioned a move to erect floodlights along the terrain separating India and Pakistan in the Gujarat sector in 2003 to prevent smuggling and arms trafficking. In previous years the border has regularly seen attempts at infiltration by terrorists, as well as the smuggling of arms, ammunition and contraband.

In total, the Indian government hopes to cover 1248 miles (2009 km) of the 1800-mile (2900 km) India-Pakistan border with floodlights.

Officials have so far erected floodlights along 286 miles (460 km) of Indian border with the Pakistan state of Punjab.

The extensive floodlighting continues for 635 miles (1022 km) across Rajasthan, 109 miles (176 km) across the Jammu international border, and 125 miles (202 km) through Gujarat. So far 1156 miles (1861 km) of the border have been floodlit.

Plans are in place to erect a total 1269 miles (2043 km) of fencing along the nation's border. The Indian government hopes to have completely finished the floodlight operation by March 2012.

A similar fenced border zone operates along India's eastern border with Bangladesh, although it cannot be seen as vividly on images like this.

The Gujarat border region was notorious for being infiltrated until officials erected the floodlit border in 2003.

The spectacular image showing the floodlit border was taken by Expedition 28 International Space Station Crew on August 21.

Also visible on the picture as bright clusters is Lahore, Pakistan, nearest to the orange border line.

Islamabad, Pakistan, can also be seen towards the bottom of the picture, as well as New Delhi, India, at the top.

The floodlit border fencing built through the Indian government since 2003 is so bright it can be seen from space

Read more:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

India's love of the typewriter (an article)

An article from the "Los Angeles Times" talking about the typewriter in India:


The typewriter lives on in India

India's typewriter culture survives the age of computers in offices where bureaucracy demands typed forms and in rural areas where many homes don't have electricity.

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
5:41 PM PDT, August 31, 2011
Reporting from New Delhi

Repairmen work at New Delhi's Chawla Typewriters. (Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times / September 1, 2011)

It's a stultifying afternoon outside the Delhi District Court as Arun Yadav slides a sheet of paper into his decades-old Remington and revs up his daily 30-word-a-minute tap dance.

Nearby, hundreds of other workers clatter away on manual typewriters amid a sea of broken chairs and wobbly tables as the occasional wildlife thumps on the leaky tin roof above.

"Sometimes the monkeys steal the affidavits," Yadav said. "That can be a real nuisance."

The factories that make the machines may be going silent, but India's typewriter culture remains defiantly alive, fighting on bravely against that omnipresent upstart, the computer. (In fact, if India had its own version of "Mad Men," with its perfumed typing pools and swaggering execs, it might not be set in the 1960s but the early 1990s, India's peak typewriter years, when 150,000 machines were sold annually.)

Credit for its lingering presence goes to India's infamous bureaucracy, as enamored as ever of outdated forms (often in triplicate) and useless procedures, documents piled 3 feet high and binders secured by pink string.

Other loyalists include the over-50 generation and, conversely, young people in rural areas who dream of a call-center job but can't yet afford a laptop. There are also certain advantages to a machine without a power cord in a country where 400 million people still lack electricity.

"Power failures help us," said Rajesh Palta of Delhi's Universal Typewriter shop, whose family fled Pakistan for India during the 1947 partition with their most precious possessions: four typewriters.

Perhaps it's telling that India decided only last year to remove typewriter production as a component of its wholesale price index measuring inflation.

Although bureaucrats in growing numbers embrace computers, the governments of several states, including those containing New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, still require manual typing tests. And that's music to the ears of typing institutes, second-hand typewriter dealers and repairmen.

"I don't know why the test hasn't changed," said Debolina Mitra, a manual instructor at Kolkata's George Telegraph Typing Institute. "It's bureaucrat logic."

India's lingering love affair with correction fluid and carbon paper befits a country that often seems caught in two centuries, where high-tech companies and an ambitious space program coexist with human-powered rickshaws and feudal village life.

Indian firm Godrej and Boyce, one of the world's last typewriter makers, released its first commercial model in 1955, reportedly inspired by then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who saw it as a "symbol of independent and industrialized India." Nehru reportedly received one of the first machines.

Over the next few decades, owning a manual typewriter was a major status symbol. "Small companies with a typewriter were really going somewhere," Palta said.

Demand during the 1960s and '70s was so high that customers waited up to six months for new machines, which cost nearly as much as a recent engineering graduate's yearly salary of about $175.

"The better customers got first dibs," said C.K. Chawla, head of New Delhi's Chawla Typewriters, which suffered a break-in during the early 1970s and then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's gold-plated machine — in for repairs — was stolen.

"Usually insurance companies take forever," said Chawla, whose typewriter repair business is still a going concern, even if he has been forced to diversify. "But with Gandhi's, they settled almost immediately."

Typing was all but compulsory for any woman who wanted a job, said Geeta Meshran, 53, who banged away for 22 years in the Mumbai government's typing pool. Efficiency wasn't always paramount there. "I often worked as slowly as possible, so I wouldn't have to retype the page," she said.

A reflection of the machine's glamour is captured in the 1970 film "Bombay Talkie," with one classic scene showing women in canary yellow bell bottoms dancing atop oversized typewriter keys and singing "typewriter, tip, tip, tip" in high-pitched tones. "Typewriter keys represent the keys of life," one character says. "And we human beings dance on them."

"Typewriters were a real symbol of Indian life. Just consider how many laws and birth certificates came from its keys," said Abhishek Jain, who at age 13 set a world record in 1991 typing 117 words a minute on a Godrej manual.

(This followed another 15-minutes-of-fame moment when a typist from Mumbai, then known as Bombay, secured a Guinness record in 1986 for typing continuously for 123 hours on a Godrej.)

But by the mid-1990s, the typewriter was on its way out in India. Godrej — which once advertised that its durable machine "makes a good secretary a great one" — lasted longer than competitors by increasing exports as foreign makers dropped out.

Many typists began to pick up computer skills as manual dealers diversified into selling fax and photocopy machines.

"Two years ago, when a customer said he got our name from Google, I asked him, 'What's a Google?'" said Palta, in a shop filled floor to ceiling with manual typewriters stored like shelved books. "But we have to move with the times, and I now use computers."

The decline accelerated when the 2008 global financial crisis hit, and in October 2009 Godrej switched its last production line over to refrigerators, an easy decision financially, company officials said, but emotionally difficult.

The conservative family-owned company ended the era without fanfare. Most media noticed only this year when Godrej happened to mention it had only a few remaining machines.

"If we'd realized the interest, we'd have made a big splash at the time," said Milind Dukle, the company's operations general manager.

Now Godrej has announced that it is selling off its last few hundred machines, sparking a string of obituaries mourning the loss of that satisfying "ting" at the end of each line.

Even so, some aficionados hope there are enough spare parts and ribbons floating around to keep Indian typewriters tip-tip-tipping for years, hardly the first time they've defied expectations. Dukle recalls that at the time he joined Godrej, people already were saying the machines had only a few years left. "That was two decades ago," he said.

"The computer is lifeless, but there's a sheer joy in manual typing," said Jain, the record-holder. "It's a kind of music.

"Bicycles survived after cars. Why not typewriters? Let there be free choice, I say."

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

How to deal with the Indian Police (an article)

Here's an article from the UK telegraph paper about how to deal with Indian police:

Guide launched 'to help overcome fear of India's corrupt police'

A human rights group has launched a campaign to help the public overcome its fear of India's police which has been tainted by allegations of extra-judicial killings, corruption, extortion, rape and sexual assault.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi
4:51PM BST 30 Aug 2011

Ordinary members of the public are so afraid of entering police stations or allowing officers into their homes that the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has published a pamphlet to spell out their rights and explain how to hold the force to account.

Its publication follows a recent spate of suspicious deaths in custody, including that of a 14 year old girl who was allegedly dragged at gunpoint into a police station in Uttar Pradesh last June and raped and murdered.

Two terror suspects died in custody in July after they were allegedly tortured. One suffered a cerebral haemorrhage.

In 2009, 59 people died in police custody in India, while a large number of suspects have been killed in 'fake encounters' – where police are alleged to have staged shoot-outs to cover up extrajudicial killings. Several police 'encounter specialist' gunmen have become notorious, especially in Mumbai where seven officers have killed more than 500 'suspects.'

According to human rights campaigners, people are reluctant to report crimes or help road accident victims because they fear being treated as a suspect or coerced into paying bribes.

Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch said Indian police often beat suspects as instant punishment to save the trouble of court procedures, and torture them for information. "They kill people when they decide they will never have enough evidence against them, so it's fine to kill them in custody. There's a saying in Hindi which says 'the policeman is never a good friend or good enemy'. It's not a good public-private relationship," she said.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative sets out to publicise people's rights in their dealings with the police to help them overcome their fears.

Officers are not allowed to demand free rides on public transport, take goods without paying, or force someone to go to the police station if they are not under arrest, it warns.

If officers act unlawfully or refuse to protect members of the public, complaints can be made to senior officers or a magistrate. Officers cannot enter people's homes without an invitation or warrant unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect a fugitive or stolen property in being hidden there.

Maja Daruwala, Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said "people are often exploited and victimised by the police in day to day life" because of widespread ignorance of laws and rules and their rights.

"Criminal laws are often written in statues and very difficult to understand. We have simplified it and included small but important information, like if a police man slaps someone it's an illegal act," she said.

She said criminal laws and citizen's rights should be taught in schools to make sure the next generation does not live in fear of the police.

Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat, said his force had made the 'rights of citizens' available at all stations.

"It is difficult to say why people fear police. We are doing our best to keep our men friendly and act against erring officials," he said.